UK: Cambridgeshire Police propose ditching MD902 to join Chiltern ASU

UK: Cambridgeshire Police propose ditching MD902 to join Chiltern ASU

29-Jun-2011 Source: Cambridgeshire Police

The way in which police air support is provided in Cambridgeshire is changing.

In a move which will save money the force is looking to enter into a consortium with Chiltern Air Support Unit which will be backed up with existing arrangements with Suffolk and Essex police forces.

The Chiltern Air Support Unit, which has helicopters based at RAF Henlow and RAF Benson (Oxford), is a consortium formed by Thames Valley Police, Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. It could answer up to 60 per cent of Cambridgeshire’s calls for air support primarily in the west of the county.

The remaining calls, particularly those in the east of the county, could be picked up by Suffolk Constabulary air support and Essex Police air operations under the Eastern Region Collaboration.

This borderless approach is set to save the force money by sharing fixed costs. It is also the first step towards a National Air Operations Unit which is expected to be phased in from April next year. Cambridgeshire’s air operations commenced in 1997 and will be taken out of service.

The proposal will be considered by all members of Cambridgeshire Police Authority at their next full meeting on June 29.

ACC Mark Hopkins said: “Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s helicopter has been an invaluable crime fighting tool helping to recover both people and millions of pounds worth of drugs property. However the proposed split air service will still provide that air support across Cambridgeshire, but make better use of the helicopters already in service in both the Chiltern and Eastern Region Consortiums.

“We could also save as much as £0.5 million each year and still get 500 hours flying time.”

Chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Authority Ruth Rogers said: “We are committed to supporting the constabulary in providing the most cost-effective air support service for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We will be looking at the proposal in detail to ensure that is what the consortiums can deliver. editor observation – this move is in line with the ACPO proposal from October 2010 which suggested that this police operation close.  Some observers may see the press release above as a window-dressing exercise to fall in line with ACPO.

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